UN Human Rights chief Mary Robinson to receive UNESCO peace prize

UN Human Rights chief Mary Robinson to receive UNESCO peace prize

Mary Robinson, the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights and former President of Ireland, was chosen today as the laureate of the 2000 Félix Houphouët-Boigny Peace Prize, in recognition of "the great contribution she has made for the defence of human rights."

Making the announcement in Paris, former United States Secretary of State and Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Henry Kissinger - who presides over the international jury that chose Ms. Robinson - described the decision as "unanimous and enthusiastic."

Another member of the jury, former President of Portugal Mario Soares, said that Ms. Robinson had been chosen for the "ensemble of her activity." Mr. Soares underscored that she had shown "much courage for the cause of human rights and peace. She has carried out remarkable work in difficult situations and has travelled the world for the cause of human rights which is essential for peace."

The time and venue of the ceremony at which the prize, peace diploma and medal will be awarded will be determined shortly, after consultation with the laureate.

The Félix Houphouët-Boigny Peace Prize - created in 1989 and awarded by UNESCO annually - honours people, organizations and institutions which have contributed significantly to the promotion, research, safeguarding or maintaining of peace. The Prize is named after the first president of Côte d'Ivoire.

Last year, the Prize's international jury - composed of jurists, elder statesmen and former heads of state and Nobel Peace Prize laureates - honoured the Community of Sant'Egidio. In 1998, the Prize was shared between Sheikh Hasina, Prime Minister of Bangladesh, and Senator George Mitchell, former Special Adviser to US President Clinton for Irish Affairs.

Previous winners included the UN High Commissioner for Refugees Sadako Ogata (1995); King Juan Carlos of Spain and former US President Jimmy Carter (1994); Yitzhak Rabin, Shimon Peres and Yasser Arafat (1993); the International Law Academy in The Hague (1992); Nelson Mandela and Frederik W. De Klerk (1991).